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What Is the Number 120 Meaning in the Bible?

What Is the Number 120 Meaning in the Bible?

The number 120 holds special significance throughout both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. But what does this number actually represent? This article will explore the biblical meaning and symbolism of the intriguing number 120.

Overview: The Significance of Certain Numbers in Scripture

Before diving specifically into 120, it’s helpful to understand why some numbers seem to carry deeper meaning in the Bible. Scripture indicates that God imbues certain numbers with symbolic power. We see interesting patterns with numbers like 3, 7, 10 and 40.

The number 12 also has rich biblical meaning, representing governmental perfection and divine authority. Multiples of 12 also often signify something complete or whole. As we’ll see, 120 fits this pattern.

120 Years: God’s Decree of Shortened Lifespans

The first notable appearance of 120 is in Genesis 6:3, where God decrees: “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

This passage comes just before the Great Flood. God proclaims that man’s lifespan, which had been extending for generations, would be suddenly and severely limited to no more than 120 years. This dramatic restriction likely represented God’s desire for humans to refocus toward pursuing moral righteousness and spiritual obedience over physical longevity and earthly pleasures.

120 Years: The Full Life Span of Moses

Later in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 34:7, we’re told that “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died.” Here, the number 120 signifies Moses having lived a full life.

Recall, 120 years marks the maximum human lifespan according to Genesis 6:3. The text emphasizes Moses retained his vitality and had not diminished by old age. Reaching this milestone age indicates Moses had achieved the ultimate longevity, after faithfully fulfilling his life’s purpose as God’s servant.

The Lofty 120 Cubits of Solomon’s Temple

The next key occurrence of 120 is in 2 Chronicles 3, which describes various dimensions of Solomon’s Temple. Verse 4 highlights “the portico at the front of the temple was twenty cubits long…and twenty cubits high. That’s 120 cubits high for the porch roof!

This lofty height reinforces the grandeur and paramount importance of the Temple. The soaring 120 cubit ceiling reflected Israel’s exalted view of the presence and glory of God dwelling literally and spiritually within the Holy Temple.

120 Followers of Christ Gather After His Ascension

Transitioning to the New Testament, the book of Acts records another gathering of 120 devout souls. After Jesus ascends to Heaven, Acts 1:15 specifies that approximately “120 people” who followed Christ reunited in Jerusalem.

This assembly represented Jesus’ faithful and longtime disciples who traveled with and learned from him for three years. The 120 believed in Christ’s messiahship and God’s kingdom. They obediently waited as instructed after his ascension, ready to receive and act on his promised Holy Spirit equipping.

The Symbolic Signposts Along the Way

Stepping back, we can summarize a few key symbolic signposts around the number 120 in the Bible:

  • A full or complete lifespan (Genesis 6 and Deuteronomy 34)
  • An expansive, imposing, or optimal measurement (2 Chronicles 3)
  • A sizeable and steadfast community of followers (Acts 1)

So for the biblical authors, the Spirit-led number 120 communicates tangible earthly completion alongside dynamic spiritual potential. It signals a rich, broad life lived passionately unto the Lord.

Conclusion: A Number Marking Spiritual Maturity

In the Old and New Testaments then, the number 120 represents human longevity reaching its appointed limits – while also signifying openness to what God can still accomplish through devoted believers progressing in wisdom.

This unique number ultimately points to the full stature and maturity God desires His people to exhibit by walking closely with Him throughout their complete lifetimes here on earth.

In summary:

  • 120 in Scripture symbolizes full devotion to God over time
  • It marks out faithful believers pursuing spiritual growth into old age
  • And it testifies to our true purpose when living unto the Lord, not merely for self

So next time you come across the number 120 in the word of God, recall the depth of meaning associated with this figure. Let it remind you of pursuing lifelong obedience, modeled by saints like Moses. Also remember the small army of 120 substantive Jesus followers praying in one accord, and waiting to experience God’s power and purpose through His Holy Spirit alive in them.

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